Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Love Letters from the Edge by Shelly Beach and Wanda Sanchez - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Meditations offering practical hope through biblical expressions of lament and God's relentless, unconditional love for the hurting

Millions of women in the United States battle with after-effects of suffering so great they’ve developed post-traumatic stress disorder—the same suffering experienced by soldiers who’ve gone through war. Sexual and physical abuse, catastrophic accidents, abandonment, natural disasters, invasive medical procedures, and many other painful and overwhelming events can trigger symptoms they are little equipped to deal with and hard-pressed to recognize.

Love Letters from the Edge provides a voice for those struggling to express this pain and reveals intimate encouragement for those in desperate need to hear God’s words of love and deliverance. This heartfelt devotional focuses on the profound laments in the book of Psalms. Each meditation begins with a letter from someone in the throes of despair and then offers a tender response to their pain from God’s perspective.

Fresh, honest, and intimate, Love Letters from the Edge will reach readers who never expected to hear good news from where they are and point them toward the hope and healing of Christ.

My Thoughts:
Love Letters from the Edge is a twelve-week book of meditations designed to help you express your questions and frustrations to God and to better understand his heart for you.”  (p. 19)

This is a very straightforward statement written by the author in an attempt to give the reader an idea of this books format.  There is no way to dive into the emotional  upheaval of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Like many, I always associated this with folks returning from war.  What I’ve learned is that any traumatic event, death, illness, addiction, loss, divorce…any and all of these events can result in lingering PTSD symptoms.   Basically this is a mental health issue that results when, “…a person’s ability to cope is overwhelmed by a highly stressful experience and an individual perceives a threat to his or her own life of the life of someone else.”  (p. 257) The appendices of this book alone contain a gold mine of information!

This book is written as though someone is writing letters back and forth between himself and God.  The circumstances are different for every letter, but God’s answers are consistent and true.  Yes, we do live in a fallen world and suffer the consequences of other’s evil choices.  Until the Savior returns to carry us home, that will always be true.  But God has given us help through books like this one, so that we may learn to seek help, seek answers and rest in God alone.


This is not an easy read, but it is a necessary read!! This isn’t just for those who suffer from PTSD but for anyone who knows someone affected by this disorder.  It is real, and many are suffering!  Give them a hand back into wholeness!! There is a WEALTH of information about medical, spiritual and physical help available for everyone!! A gold mine!! Don’t miss this!!

About the Authors:
Shelly Beach is an award-winning author of eight books, including the Christy Award–winning Hallie’s Heart and ECPA book of the year nominee, Precious Lord, Take My Hand: Meditations for Caregivers. She is a national speaker, delivering a message of hope to thousands of women each year, and writes to an audience of approximately two million readers each month on Caring.com.

Wanda Sanchez is the executive producer of one of the nation’s longest running talk shows, and has over twenty-five years of experience in media, marketing, and publicity. She experienced extensive physical and emotional trauma and has come out the other side. Today, she blogs and speaks about hope for recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder to women and health professionals around the country. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Firewall by Diann Mills - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

About the Book:
After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties. 

My Thoughts:
Odd how life could spin and drop at the same time.”  (p. 327)

Taryn makes this observation at a critical point in the novel, but her life has been spinning and dropping for the previous 326 pages!!  And so has mine!  To read a novel by Diann Mills is to launch yourself into the unknown and “expect an adventure.”  This novel has the lives of everyone in a tailspin from the very first page!

Adults, children, no one is safe in this novel!  And the plot line is so twisted that the reader will be in knots by the time things start to unwind!  Honestly!  Diann casts a number of red herring upon a very tumultuous sea of events – events that read like today’s headlines!  That’s what makes this novel a tad disturbing!  When the idea was conceived and written down, Diann could have never dream what the headlines would be in the month this novel released.  It’s almost as if the Lord Himself is putting an exclamation mark at the end!

See, it is my opinion that security is a myth – a vapor that is whisked away by the evil hand of terrorists around the globe.  Diann has tapped into the depth and breadth of the possibilities surrounding this idea and places Taryn and Grayson square in the middle of the tumult!  Neither of them escapes physical, emotional and spiritual upheaval throughout this novel, and their survival is questionable at best. 

Firewall kicks off Diann’s latest series FBI: Houston.  You don’t want to miss a word of it!! Believe me!  Your mouth will be gaping open with surprise time and time again!  GREAT adventure!!

About the Author:
DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010. 

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. 

DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website or find her on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/diannmills



Friday, July 18, 2014

Feast For Thieves by Marcus Brotherton - REVEIWED



About the Book:  (from Moody Publishers)
Sergeant Rowdy Slater is the most skilled-and most incorrigible-soldier in Dog Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, an elite group of paratroopers fighting for the world's freedom in World War II. 

Through a bizarre set of circumstances, Rowdy returns to the States after the war, turns his life around, and falls into the only job he can find-preacher at the sparsely populated community church in Cut Eye, Texas, a dusty highway town situated at the midpoint of nowhere and emptiness.

The town's lawman, suspicious that Rowdy has changed his ways only as a cover up, gives an ultimatum: Rowdy must survive one complete year as Cut Eye's new minister or end up in jail. 

At first Rowdy thinks the job will be easy, particularly because he's taking over for a young female missionary who's held the church together while the men were at war. But when a dark-hearted acquaintance from Rowdy's past shows up with a plan to make some quick cash, Rowdy becomes ensnared due to an irrevocable favor, and life turns decidedly difficult.

Rowdy's a man used to solving problems one of two ways: with his rifle or with his fists. Will he be able to thwart his old friend's evil schemes while remaining true to his new higher calling? 

This is a wild ride of a book bursting with a bank robbery, kidnapping, desperate prayers, and barroom brawls. Before the smoke clears, all sides just might end up getting exactly what they want.

My Thoughts:
With grace, there was nothing that came between him and God. It didn’t matter if the fella had a rough background.  It didn’t matter, even, if he’d once committed a crime.”  (p. 126)

By the time Rowdy Slater understood just a glimpse of grace, he had witnessed war, death and participated in depravity of all sorts!  God definitely worked in mysterious ways time and time again in order to reach Rowdy’s heart.  In the process of reaching Rowdy, God used him to reach others who felt their lives were generally meaningless and without hope.   Cut Eye, Texas was forever changed as Rowdy Slater’s life was transformed right before their eyes!

Sherriff Halligan Barker is probably the wisest, slickest man in all of Texas to rope Rowdy Slater into a role so diametrically opposed to every aspect of his life.  He took an almighty gamble when he made a deal with Rowdy!  In short order life begins to unfold beneath Rowdy’s feet, and he begins to know the people of Cut Eye in the most intimate way!  Deputy Roy, Augusta and Cisco, Myrtle and Clay, Sunny, and Reverend Bobbie are all brought to vivid life in the reader’s heart.  The entire town of Cut Eye becomes something you want to fiercely protect and become a part of.

I have a weakness for broken, brave and cutting edge characters like Rowdy Slater!  I am thrilled to learn that Marcus Brotherton is planning to create a series of books that feature Rowdy as the main character!  Feast For Thieves presents the truth of the gospel in the most exciting unusual way, and truly gives the reader countless examples of mercy and grace throughout the story. 


I can honestly say that I was sad to reach the end of this novel, but thrilled to learn that I can look forward to more from the pen of Marcus Brotherton! I highly recommend this book to everyone!!

About the Author:

MARCUS BROTHERTON is the author or coauthor of more than twenty-five nonfiction books. Notable works include Shifty's War, A Company of Heroes, and the oral history project, We Who Are Alive and Remain: untold stories from the Band of Brothers, a New York Times bestseller. This is his first novel. www.marcusbrotherton.com.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Audience Favorite DOONBY Set to be Released on DVD July 22nd

Doonby is a movie that will make you think and make you feel. Entertaining from start to finish, it packs a special punch that is sure to make it one of this year’s most talked about films.”
— Peter Roff, U.S. News & World Report
 
“Brilliantly weaves an intriguing tapestry.”
—  L’Osservatore Romano
 
Los Angeles, CA - Described by actor and screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson as “It’s a Wonderful Life meets The Twilight Zone,” the spellbinding thriller, DOONBY, is set to be released on DVD July 22nd by Green Apple Entertainment and Riverhorse Entertainment.  Written and directed by Irish filmmaker Peter Mackenzie, Doonby examines how much one man’s life can affect those around him while answering the larger question of what one life is worth.
 
Doonby tells the story of Sam Doonby, a mysterious drifter who quickly becomes the talk of the small Texas town. He finds work at Leroy’s Country Blues Bar, where his musical talents make him a local celebrity, attracting the attention of the beautiful but spoiled Laura Reaper. Sam is strangely immune to the misfortunes of others, yet always around to prevent sudden disasters from happening.
 
Soon the narrow-minded townsfolk become jealous and start to question his background and motives. But, it is Laura’s doubts that cause Sam to vanish, leaving the locals to deal with some difficult admissions. Sam’s abrupt disappearance forces those he left behind to deal with some painful revelations and to question his mysterious arrival and departure.
 
Starring John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots, The Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville) as Sam Doonby, alongside Will Wallace (Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line), Robert Davi (The Expendables 3, The Goonies, Die Hard), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), and Jenn Gotzon (Hulk, Frost/Nixon), Doonby is produced by Riverhorse Entertainment.
 
Beginning on July 22, the DVD release of Doonby will be available online through outlets such as ChristianCinema.com, big box stores such as Best Buy, and at brick and mortar Christian retail outlets such as Family Christian Stores. Doonby is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16 x 9 (1:78) and Dolby Digital Surround Sound.
 
About Riverhorse Entertainment Ltd.
Riverhorse Entertainment Ltd. is an Irish production company owned by husband and wife team, Peter and Sally Mackenzie, with offices in the United Kingdom and Texas. Founded in 1990, Riverhorse Entertainment develops feature projects and live stage productions. Doonby is just one of ten projects that they have in their portfolio. Other current features include Finklestein’s Miracle, a comedic tale of redemption, and The Wedding Present, a paranormal thriller set in New Orleans.
 
About Green Apple Entertainment
Green Apple Entertainment is a leading international distributor of quality, independent entertainment on DVD, Blu-ray, download and streaming platforms and cable VOD. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., Green Apple works directly with filmmakers to cultivate superior filmmaking for a variety of genres – including action, drama, romance, thrillers, horror/sci-fi, documentaries, family and animation – and fresh new viewing experiences for a diverse array of audiences. Green Apple was founded in 2005 by industry veteran Tim Warren. For more information, please see http://www.greenapple-ent.com or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GreenAppleEnt.
 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Death Takes a Ride by Lorena McCourtney - REVIEWED


About the Book:
It's official. This case is above her pay grade--and Cate's in over her head.
Cate Kinkaid arrives at H&B Vintage Auto Restorations to give a friend a ride. But, as usual, trouble finds Cate even there--this time in the form of one dead man, one wounded man, and what appears to be a pretty obvious case of self-defense. 

Despite having been merely an unfortunate bystander, Cate finds herself sucked into the case. And the deeper she gets, the more she begins to suspect that the shooting in the H&B office may not have been as cut-and-dried as it appeared.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lorena McCourtney takes you on wild ride in this clever cozy mystery that will keep you guessing.

My Thoughts:
Not even midnight yet, and already she’d turned into a PI pumpkin.”  (p. 261)

I met Cate Kincaid in Dolled Up To Die, and she is still my favorite PI!   I adore a good cozy mystery, and Lorena McCourtney uses a dog – a large, motorcycle-loving brute of a dog named Clancey – to add a unique touch of humor and attention-grabbing oddity to a rather unexpected murder mystery.  This case tumbles into Cate’s life much like the candle tumbles into the stack of napkins in one of the final scenes of the novel.  I guess that’s why I like her so much, because things tend to be a haphazard jumble most of the time. 
However, when things begin to come together, both in the murder mystery and her personal relationships, things happen in rapid succession with no guarantee all will end well for those involved.  Mitch, good ‘ole dependable, snarky Mitch, gets dragged into Cate’s messes in the strangest ways, and McCourtney uses this relationship to sprinkle a dash of romance into the mystery.  Just about the time I want to tell Mitch to dodge, dismiss and disengage from Cate’s life – something that is implied to be happening in this novel – he turns around and does something sweet to endear himself to my heart all over again.  He is a true keeper!

And the mystery is anything but safe!  There are some high stakes involved, and McCourntey casts a wide net for suspects.  As any good writer, she holds her cards close to her chest and has a rather dramatic and dangerous reveal at the end!


Once again, a very satisfying read!! I can’t wait to see what Cate stumbles into next!! And I really can’t wait to see what role Mitch will play after his attempt at a romantic cookout! SO FUNNY!!

About the Author:
Lorena McCourtney is the New York Timesbestselling and award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Invisible (which won the Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America), Dying to Read, and Dolled 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shenandoah Dreams by Lisa Belcastro - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Shenandoah Dreams
OakTara Publishers (July 1, 2014)
by
Lisa Belcastro


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard. She loves chocolate, gardening, outdoor activities, cooking, laughing, reading, traveling, a healthy dose of adventure, and her cat Ben, who keeps her company while she spends hours working at the computer.

She was inspired to write Shenandoah Nights, the first book in the Winds of Change trilogy, while chaperoning two Tisbury School summer sails with her daughter, Kayla, aboard the schooner Shenandoah. The weeklong adventure, sans electricity, Game Boys, iPods and modern conveniences, kindled her imagination to dream of an altogether different voyage.

In addition to writing romance novels, Lisa currently pens the cuisine column for Vineyard Style magazine. She has worked as a staff and freelance reporter and photographer for The Chronicle of the Horse and as assistant editor at The Blue Ridge Leader. She has written articles for USA Today, Dressage (London), USA WEEKEND Magazine, The Blue Ridge Leader and Sidelines.

When she’s not at her desk, Lisa is living in paradise, volunteering at her daughter’s school, serving in her church community, planting and weeding her numerous gardens, trying to run a marathon a month, or walking the beach looking for sea glass.

ABOUT THE BOOK

What if she met the man of her dreams...in another century? Tisbury, Massachusetts, Martha s Vineyard. It s just a dream, Melissa Smith whispers as she stares into the intense eyes of a man dressed in Colonial clothes, as though stepping out of an American Revolution movie set. A school chaperone with Holmes Hole Elementary, she d boarded the old schooner Shenandoah for a weeklong educational sail. But they are not visiting Plimoth Plantation, the Boston Tea Party Museum, or the Concord Bridge reenactment. They re sailing the waters around the island of Martha s Vineyard. Yet, when she awakes in Cabin 8, the captain claims to be Isaiah Reed, who sailed the original Shenandoah in the eighteenth century. He cannot possibly be real, Melissa thinks. And traveling back in time is impossible. But days pass, and she s still in 1770. What if Isaiah, who is simply too handsome to be real, is real? What if the fire he ignites in her from barely a touch isn t in her imagination? Can a dream last for weeks on end? If so, how will she find her way home...to the twenty-first century? And can she bear to leave the one man who has captured her heart, when everything in her longs to stay? A Vineyard Romance Romance, history, adventure. Get swept into the exciting Winds of Change series.

My Opinion:
Shenandoah Dreams….my opinion?  Well, it is an intriguing concept that needs to be more thoroughly developed.   I know if I fell asleep in one century and woke up three centuries earlier I’d be pretty freaked out.  However, spouting off historical forecasts would not be my method of choice to convince folks that I had a valid reason to be upset.  The folks in the 18th century had to warn Melissa that being  so far afield in her thinking COULD be contributed to a bump on the head OR get you burned and the stake convicted of practicing witchcraft! 


Bottom line, this plot was not believably developed in the very brief 224 pages it took to tell the tale.  The story felt rushed, and the faith elements seemed a bit…over the top. Melissa bursts into a verse of a praise song trying to calm herself and then spouts off the name of a 21st century singer and hope no one notices.  This just felt forced to me.  So much so, that I was unable to suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy the story.  It has great possibility, but, it’s just too underdeveloped.   But this is just one opinion.  Try it for yourself and form your own.  Please.

If you liked to read the first chapter of Shenandoah Dreams, go HERE.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Penny Wise by Neta and Dave Jackson - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Penny Wiseintroduces us to yet another family in "the neighborhood"---the Jaspers, busy with demanding jobs, busy with church, busy volunteering, parents of three active teenagers, juggling sometimes crazy schedules. All good things. Until all those "good things" feed into a series of crises that affects the whole family. Something's gotta change!

The third in the Windy City Neighbors series, Penny Wise is a contemporary peek at an urban family wrestling with the spiritual and practical challenges of real life. The series employs the innovating storytelling technique of "parallel novels," each with its own drama and story arc, but whose characters' lives become intertwined with their neighbors and affect one another. Welcome to Beecham Street---a typical, isolated American neighborhood that is beginning to come out of its shell . . . for better or worse.

Purchase you copy HERE.

My Thoughts:
“I’m so glad I learned to trust thee,
Precious Jesus,  Savior, Friend.
And I know that thou are with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.” (p. 302)

Once again, Neta  and Dave Jackson have allowed me to live among the dear folks that live on Beecham Street in the suburbs of Chicago.  This installment of the Windy City Neighbors series takes us into the home and lives of the Jasper family.  Michelle, Jared, Tabby, Tavis and Destin create a world of their own that spins 100-miles-an-hour wide open.  Jared and Michelle often feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising three teens, working full-time and being active in their church and community.  Every moment of every day is simply bulging at the seams with activity!!

And then….God shows up and shows out in profound and unexpected ways and carries this precious family into relationship with Him in very personal  and specific ways.  By the time you “listen” to Shareece  Watson sing “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” you will be on your feet weeping and praising God!  There are some significant, raw and painful moments in the lives of the Beecham street neighbors.  But you will be longing to enter their homes and lives once again the moment you read the final page!


I absolutely adore the Jackson’s ability to create such strong, transparent, vulnerable characters!  Their struggles mirror the lives of those you encounter every day, and God’s longsuffering, and tender wooing to His heart just makes my own heart soar with promise!!  Don’t miss one single minute of this brilliant series! 

About the Authors:
About the authors: Dave and Neta Jackson are award-winning authors living in the Chicago area where their parallel novels from the Yada Yada House of Hope and Harry Bentley series are set. As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books.

Visit there website